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La Passacaglia: Big 4 Complete!

Hooray! I am SO EXCITED to finally be finished with all four of the “big rosettes” in the La Passacaglia pattern – those with a double ring of stars. I’m happy with how the Liberty Tana Lawn Mabelle print in blue and red looks, too:

East Dakota Quilter - 4th Large Rosette

My overall progress looks something like this:

East Dakota Quilter - Passacaglia Progress
Yeah, I can’t believe I failed to blog about that little guy in the bottom middle, either. I guess I thought I must have done it when I posted to Instagram instead. Bonus rosette!

East Dakota Quilter - Passacaglia Rosette

Now I’m trembling with naïve optimism that, with the most time-intensive rosettes finished, the rest of the pattern should practically sew itself and be finished in the next month or so – HA! Never mind it took me over two years to get to this point. And I will be having a baby in a month or two, depending when she decides to arrive.

Speaking of which… I have been disappointed when bloggers suddenly shift directions and turn a blog about home DIY into a blog about polar bears. Just for example. I didn’t want to do that with this blog, so feel free to check out the secondary blog I created, Building Home & Family, if you’re into home renovations and family life. We’re just starting both ventures, so I expect a lot more content should start flowing in future months!

Building Home and Family Collage on East Dakota Quilter

I do have a few sewing-related posts over there:

Planning for a Market + Quilt
Free Boppy Cover Pattern
Crib Sheet to sew crib sheets

Reader Question: Is there any interest in having my family-focused sewing projects appear here, too? Or are you more interested in quilts-and-only-quilts? Most blogs seldom receive much feedback anymore, so it’s difficult to anticipate what readers might want without going the ol’ trial and error route.

That said, there is one question that keeps popping up in relation to this blog, and I thought I’d answer it here for posterity:

Q: How do you create your “progress” images for the La Passacaglia?
A: It’s really time-intensive. Kind of like hand sewing the Passacaglia itself. But if you’re still interested, read on…

Step 1: I used the pattern image from the book and desaturated it (i.e. turned it from color to black and white). Don’t have the pattern? It’s in the Millefiori Quilts book, available here. (The vendor I used is sold out, but the linked Etsy shop owner is someone I met through the DCMQG when I lived out east, and she’s great.)

Step 2: I photograph my latest rosette finish, preferably against a neutral background to make editing easier.

Step 3: In Photoshop, I open the photo and delete/remove the background, including the extra “tails” on the triangles of the rosette to get a clean shape.

Step 4: Finally, I open the full pattern image, copy and paste my newest rosette, and resize/transform/rotate it until it covers the space allocated in the pattern. I aim for “pretty close” vs. perfect because even an overhead photo of a rosette tends to have at least a little bit of angle that makes the proportions a tiny bit wonky.

A few people have asked me to share some of the templates I’ve created for my personal use in designing my La Passacaglia, but I think it’s important not to violate the designer’s intellectual property rights. She worked hard on the design, folks! Given all the hours I’m putting into my quilt, I feel the cost of the book is probably the lowest per-hour book cost I’ve ever spent! And I DEVOUR books!

Check out my WIPs page for links to all my La Passacaglia posts.

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La Passacaglia – 3rd & 4th Rosettes

My progress on my La Passacaglia continues slowly. In the meantime, I finished some Christmas projects (in March!) and generally enjoyed a break from most sewing.

Since my last Passacaglia post, I’ve added two new rosettes, one large and one small. My original plan was to work on all the large rosettes first to have the best idea of what my finished quilt would look like. I have revised the heck out of that plan! The smaller rosettes are infinitely faster to finish, so I’m trying to pepper those in so I feel like I’ve at least made some progress! Here’s what I have so far:

Progress4

My 3rd rosette was especially fun because it doubles as a quilt label. My new husband’s last name is Bayer, which he pronounces as “bear.” (I use two syllables.) I incorporated both Bayer and bears into the rosette. And a few hearts. ❤

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Here’s a closer view from a progress shot:

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And this last rosette is the one I made after starting rosette #3 but before finishing it because it took FOREVER. (I mean every single one of those capital letters!)

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As you can see, my blue-and-orange color scheme also incorporates some reds and yellows.

Early on, I made a coloring template for my Passacaglia in MS Word. I didn’t share it because I was concerned about copyright laws and didn’t want to steal the work of a designer. That said, the Passacaglia is everywhere, and others have made their coloring sheets publicly available. Theirs are also better than mine because all the shapes actually line up, haha. If you’re interested in a free La Passacaglia coloring sheet, I used the one I found here.

Check out my WIPs page for links to all my La Passacaglia posts.


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1930s Farmer’s Wife Quilt-A-Long: 5 Blocks Complete!

If I make blocks in a different order from the officially organized quilt-a-long (QAL) and even change some of the blocks, am I still a QAL participant? I’ve decided the answer to that question is yes! And today I’m here to share the blocks I’ve completed so far. This QAL is graciously being hosted by Kerry, whose blog is VeryKerryBerry. Check it out or follow her Instagram hashtag (#FW1930sQAL) for more inspiration.

Block 18: Carol

As part of the blog hop, I completed Block 18, “Carol.”

18 Carol by East Dakota Quilter

For those who aren’t aware, block patterns come from the book The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt. Each block is paired with a letter that was written by a farmer’s wife and submitted to the magazine The Farmer’s Wife in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The letters provide a snapshot of life in that decade, but the letters selected for publication also tend to be uplifting, which is remarkable considering the challenges faced by farmers at the time.

The letter paired with my block was one of my favorites. You’ll have to buy the book to read the whole thing, but the gist was that by having a radio, the writer felt she sometimes knew more about what was happening elsewhere in the world than she did about her own community and neighbors. It’s crazy to think people already noticed the effects of globalization in a very real way back in the 1930s! I also love that the block shares a name with my Great Aunt Carol, someone who sewed lots of things for me through the years.

Fabric Selections

If you’ve been on my blog awhile, you might have read about what I call my Ugly Quilt. I used lots of gorgeous fabrics for what was to be my first-ever quilt, but they clashed fiercely… and so the pieces ultimately went to a thrift shop, where I wouldn’t have to repurpose my failure into a new project, haha.

Having learned from that experience, I decided the cohesion of this quilt would center around Heather Ross prints. Heather Ross is my favorite. I write about having met her in my review of QuiltCon 2015. In this quilt, I will use pieces from all her various fabric lines plus pieces cut from munki munki brand pajamas she designed (typically out of print/OOP since I discovered quilting long after she sold the brand). It’s true that not all the fabrics share a similar colorway, but I’ve decided not to worry about that for now. Please cross your fingers for me that all these lovely fabrics won’t become Episode 2: Ugly Quilt’s Revenge. Here’s a photo of about half my HR stash paired with the FW1930sQAL blocks:

(Yes, I spent a small fortune on Etsy.)

For those who are already HR superfans, you might be thinking to yourself, What the heck?! The mermaids in that Carol block are NOT in one of Heather’s original colorways. Did Tiffany STEAL Heather’s artwork? To that, I answer: nope! You should probably get your hands on a copy of the book Prints immediately. It’s awesome.

Prints - Photo by East Dakota Quilter

Included with the book is a disc of some of Heather’s artwork. The whole book is about using technology to design and change fabric, and she offers her prints as a starting point. In other words, you can customize the prints however you’d like and print them on Spoonflower! I started with the Mermaids print from the Mendocino line, making one a redhead and the other a brunette. Admittedly, she has TONS more experience with colorways than I do. I’m not sure that mine was an improvement. But it was incredibly fun to play with the prints in Photoshop. Perhaps my favorite thing about having the prints in electronic format was being able to increase or decrease the size of some so they would fit on the blocks in the Farmer’s Wife book. Each block is only 6″ finished, so many of the prints would have been too big without resizing. And where I had to choose to sacrifice either the print or the block design, I’ve decided in most cases to favor the print. You can see an example of this in one of the other blocks I completed (described below), Block 79.

Four More Finished Blocks

East Dakota Quilter FWQAL Collage 1

As I said, I’ve been sewing my blocks out of order. The first block I completed was actually Block 79, “Patience.”

79 Patience by East Dakota Quilter

This block was originally just a 9-patch block. After holding the elephant up to lots of different blocks featured in the book, I realized it wouldn’t fit on ANY of the blocks. I made the executive decision to combine several of the pieces to feature the elephant on a block. I am thrilled with the result.

Next, I completed Block 14, “Betty.”

14 Betty by East Dakota Quilter

I basically started with all the largest-scale prints and then looked for a block that had pieces large enough to accommodate them. This block not only fit the mountain top, but placed it at the top of the block like the skiers were skiing down from the top of the mountain. I made the lower left skier look like he’s falling on accident, but otherwise, I love the effect.

I took a long break after this block to sort the rest of the prints with blocks that had appropriately-sized pieces. I saved a snail print for last since it had some of the smallest images of any of the prints. So when I finished sorting, I sewed Block 6, “April.”

06 April by East Dakota Quilter

The center block actually came from a charm pack of Gardenvale fabric that I got as a freebie at QuiltCon. Pretty sweet, right?! I like how it included the snail colors but added a few more to the palette. Without the center piece, this block would have had almost identical colors to Block 79. I like how a single fortuitous print opened the door to so many options!

Finally, I completed Block 2, “Aimee.”

02 Aimee by East Dakota Quilter

This incorporates another image from the book Prints. The image was actually intended for gift tags, but I thought it would be cute for a quilt, which of course is another handmade item. Sadly, when I cut apart my Spoonflower fabric, I accidentally cut these pieces too small. I was glad I thought to save the scraps, and the scrappy look that resulted isn’t something I mind at all!

In case you’re curious, this is how my yard of Spoonflower fabric with edited images from Prints turned out:

Spoonflower Prints by East Dakota Quilter

Watch for these images in future blocks!

Thanks for visiting, whether you’re a longtime follower of my blog or visiting for the first time as part of the Blog Hop!


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Botanics Plus Quilt: A King-Sized Success!

A little over a year ago, I got married. It was an awesome wedding. We were surrounded by friends and family. Family members included a new sister-in-law, who offered to cook for the entire guest list. And then the refrigerator of the industrial kitchen we were renting died the night before the wedding, so she cooked the entire meal again the day of the wedding!!! Perhaps the sweetest part of all is that no one told me until the wedding was over so I wouldn’t have to worry. Yep, I have the best friends and family ever.

We talked late that night about the cool air, how quilts are great for snuggling against the chill. We bonded over our preference for really thick quilts. (Even though they’re a bear to sew and I understand why others avoid making them now that I sew myself.) I told her I would make her a quilt. It might take me 40 years, I said, but I would make her a quilt.

Just before our first wedding anniversary in September, I finished her quilt! I’ve always been an over-achiever, but 39 years ahead of schedule is a new personal best!

Botanics Plus Quilt by East Dakota Quilter

By contrast, the photo might be a personal worst. This beast is king-sized. It has both wool and cotton batting. It weighs nearly 20 pounds! The day this photo was taken, I was furiously sewing on the binding (see the Clover clips to the right and bottom?). My husband and his brother were about to drive from Chicago to Colorado Springs to visit their sister, and I wanted them to be able to present it to her in person. I sewed right up until the last second and barely had time to throw it in their car before they left. I didn’t really have time to stage a photo. I took this unfinished photo while the light was still okay, realizing I’d already missed the best window and that it would be even worse when I finished the quilt. I was working from the shop of their family business, so I threw it over the lofted area and held it there with some paint cans. (It is possible one fell, broke open, and left a tiny paint mark on the almost-finished quilt, which I noticed as I put in the very last stitch. Doh!) The purpose of this narrative is not so much to apologize for the photo as to point out it perfectly captures what sewing this quilt was like!

The fabrics are from several 5″ charm packs of Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics line, plus some charm packs of the coordinating Kona solids. (I thought some coordinated better than others.)

One final note: the quilting bar on my Janome machine made quilting the cross-hatch SO MUCH EASIER than it would have been on my Singer! The dual feed meant my top layer didn’t get “pinched” or pucker repeatedly. I thought for years that I was just infinitely less talented than every other quilter; I learned the tools make a huge difference. I even tried some free motion quilting (FMQ) along the edges. Although the plus shape is comprised entirely of straight lines, turning the quilt at every corner and jamming it through the throat space was a nightmare. Using FMQ instead was *slightly* better. I still have lots of practice ahead of me!


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Cut Glass Baby Quilt – Vintage Quilt Revival

I don’t buy many quilting books because I’d rather make my own projects most of the time. Vintage Quilt Revival was an exception. Almost as soon as I bought the book, I learned that Katie Blakesley was a member of the DCMQG at the time and that she’d be hosting a trunk show. When I saw her Cut Glass quilt, I fell in love.

It might be too strong to say I was hoarding the pattern, but I definitely had it in my pattern library and was waiting for an opportunity to use it! When two of my best law school friends announced they were having a baby, I knew I’d found the perfect match.

Cut Glass Baby Quilt by East Dakota Quilter

I made it baby-quilt-size instead of a regular-sized quilt because other new parents have told me they like having a mobile blanket. It can cover a stroller or car seat, protect a baby when lying in a germy public space, and becomes a “blankie” when the baby outgrows these uses.

Steelers Quilt Back by East Dakota Quilter

Not only does the back side of the quilt match the gray and yellow nursery décor, but it is also reminiscent of the Steelers’ colors – baby’s dad is a huge fan!


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Sew Kitschy – A Placemat Finish!

I started participating in the Sew Kitschy quilt-along (QAL), hosted by Kristy at Quiet Play, with the intent to make a quilt for my pastry chef sister. I lost steam a little before I made it halfway through. Then, when I thought I might revive the project, my sister saw the blocks and thought they might not fit her home décor bedroom aesthetic. (I guess not everyone loves BRIGHTS! haha)

I rescued the project and am able to check one UFO off my list by turning the finished blocks into placemats instead. The kitchen theme works perfectly in the kitchen! As an added bonus, the blocks match an oven mitt and some potholders I made my sister for Christmas a few years back.

Sew Kitschy Placemats by East Dakota Quilter

Here are the back sides:

Back of Placemats by East Dakota Quilter

Glad to have one more project off my list. And my cutting mat.


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La Passacaglia: New Rosette + New Template

At a rate of about one rosette every two months, I’ve finally finished my second!

East Dakota Quilter La Passacaglia Fire and Ice

With saturated red-oranges, prints resembling snowflakes (at least if you squint), and wintery novelty prints (polar bears and Heather Ross/munki munki ice skaters), I call this my “fire and ice” rosette. I mentioned in earlier posts (here and here) that I plan to make my entire quilt in blues and oranges.

Progress 2 by East Dakota Quilter

I know I also said this before, but the rosettes are HUGE! I took a photo with my feet for perspective.

Fire and Ice La Passacaglia by East Dakota Quilter

Here’s a progress shot to show how I work. I got the hour basket as a swap gift for my birthday (#birthdayclubhandmade) and keep pretty much everything I need inside it so I can take it with me to the coffee shop on weekends.

Passacaglia Progress by East Dakota Quilter

Probably my rosettes would go a lot faster if I worked only on one at a time from start to finish. Instead, I usually finish the center of one, start basting (hand sewing), get bored, and sew another center or two in the meantime. I am currently started on three other rosettes.

One of my new rosettes will feature a single image in the center. Some quilters have done an incredible job of lining up individual pieces. I plan to shortcut the process and combine a few pieces at once. Here’s the process I’m using:

Passacaglia Center Template by East Dakota Quilter

First, I made a template of the rosette center. I think this is no major feat since anyone can line up a few diamond shapes, and it’s pretty obvious how they fit together if you’ve seen a photo of even a single rosette. The trick to La Passacaglia is how all the rosettes fit together. Definitely get the book if you want to make the quilt! After printing a template, I cut out the center of one of the images.

Cut Out Passacaglia Template Center by East Dakota Quilter

I lined up my fabric underneath the cut template.

Lining up Passacaglia Fabric under Template by East Dakota Quilter

Then I cut around the outer edge of the template to add 3/8″ seam allowance. Since the lines are traced by hand around the paper pieces, I used an acrylic ruler with my rotary cutter (for the outer edge) and Xacto knife (for the center piece). When you’re done cutting, you should have two pieces (one fabric, one template) like this:

Passacaglia Center Template by East Dakota Quilter

You could start basting your fabric to the center template at this point, but I wanted to glue mine in place for precision.

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Place your fabric wrong side up. Line up the seam allowance piece around the outer edges of your fabric.

Passacaglia Center by East Dakota Quilter

Place the center piece (with diamonds meeting in the middle) wrong side up. Glue the back of the center piece using either a fabric glue pen or a washable glue stick. Glue the center piece to the fabric (obviously glue side down), lining it up with the seam allowance piece. Then remove the seam allowance template and press.

Note on laser printers: Since laser printers use heat to bond ink to paper, running your iron over laser ink is like getting paper wet when it’s been written on with washable marker: the ink will smear. If you’re using a laser printer, I suggest placing a piece of scrap fabric over the template before pressing. Also, it’s best to press without steam since the humidity from steam will curl your paper.

Here’s the final piece held up to the light so you can see the seam allowance through the fabric:

Center Passacaglia Piece by East Dakota Quilter

One final note: I traced around each piece separately when making my template so I could use it as a single piece or remove any portion (e.g. removing one diamond to use a different fabric). However, it is much easier to baste convex corners (corners pointing outward) than concave corners (corners pointing inward), so keep that in mind if you remove a portion of the center template.

Check out my WIPs page for links to all my La Passacaglia posts.


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Father’s Day Gift – FREE Pattern

Last year, I posted about a wrench pouch I made for my dad. He travels a lot for work, so I thought it would be a fun way for him to feel closer to family while he’s on the road.

Did you know I made the quilt block pattern available for FREE on Craftsy? You can download a copy here. (You’ll need to sign up for an account, but it’s free to sign up and the pattern is free to download.) You still have a week until Father’s Day this year if you want to make your own to gift to an amazing dad or handyman in your life!

wrench pouch by EastDakotaQuilter

If you want to turn it into a pouch like I did, the pouch pattern is also free and is available here (from NoodleHead).


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Pink, pink… YOU STINK! (and the not-so-stinky Swoon)

The subject phrase prompted dear old Mom to prohibit my sister and me from saying the color “pink” for a week. (A quick successor of “Blue, blue… you too!” caused her to proclaim that ALL colors were banned UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE! Oops.)

To be honest, my feelings about the color pink at the time were about the same as my feelings about my younger sister (whom I now love dearly): I loathed them both. And the reasons were the same: over-saturation. I spent all my free time with my sister. And my bedroom, decorated by my mom, was entirely pink and white! I am more of a “can we keep adding more colors until we puke?” kind of person. (Hence, my first attempt at quilting is known as the Ugly Quilt, which used an unrestrained palette.) I have since been sympathetic to the plight of baby girls everywhere–that urge for parents and friends to swath little girls in the color pink, whether for love of the color or simply to avoid having to tell the millionth well-wisher, “My baby is a GIRL. SHE is one month old.”

All that said, I want to like the color pink. I want the freedom to reach for it to balance out other colors in my quilts. I want to be able to incorporate a novelty print that uses pink as its background. So I decided to push myself. Some of our closest friends are expecting a baby girl in a few months. I wanted to see whether I could use the color pink in a quilt I didn’t hate. And I succeeded! The palette is actually pink and blue, but I think it’s still clear that the quilt is for a girl.

Pink Swoon by East Dakota Quilter

Pink Swoon by East Dakota Quilter

The Swoon quilt block pattern by Thimble Blossoms is available here in a variety of sizes. I also have the mini version. It was really simple to sew. I was impressed that even when I wasn’t taking my time, everything seemed to line up just fine! Great pattern.

Since the couple lives in NYC, I also wanted to incorporate the place of the baby’s birth. The backing fabric is Great Gotham by Samarra Khaja and depicts the five boroughs. Isn’t it adorable?! It’s out of print, so snag some if you see it!

Gotham by Samarra Khaja - photo by East Dakota Quilter

One final note: I used the quilting bar on my new Janome machine, plus the Accufeed quilting foot. WHOA. I always wondered how quilters got such perfect rows and even stitching. Yes, it’s possible to replicate these things on a less advanced machine, but it is WAY easier and looks WAY more professional if you have the right tool for the job! I’m still so thankful for my awesome machine. It sews like a dream. AND IT’s NOT PINK, haha.


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First Passacaglia Rosette & More EPP Fussy Cutting Tips

I know I always underestimate how long it will take me to complete a project, but we’re talking whole new levels with the La Passacaglia quilt. (If you don’t know what quilt I’m talking about, check out my earlier post here.) I worked on it with all my free time last week and only made it through three rings on the first rosette. Now I am finally FINISHED… with the first rosette of many, haha. Here’s my first blue & orange rosette:

Passacaglia Rosette by East Dakota Quilter

It’s big! It takes up an entire café table. The photo below was taken earlier in the afternoon, when I thought I was finished. Then I noticed my error and had to re-sew a section. Can you spot the issue? The lighting was much better for the mix-up than the final version. Bummer!

Passacaglia Oops by East Dakota Quilter

In case you’re curious, here’s the back side of my La Passacaglia.

Passacaglia Back by East Dakota Quilter

I also came up with another fun technique for fussy cutting. In my last post, I described using a wet erase pen on acrylic templates to ensure multiple cuts of fabric have an identical pattern. It worked pretty well. But I thought to myself, If I could just copy the fabric pattern and somehow see through it, I could line things up, and there wouldn’t be the user error of my not marking perfectly or accidentally lifting half the marker off the acrylic with my fingers. That’s when I came up with what might be an even BETTER idea than the wet erase/acrylic method!

Did you have a math class in the 1990s? If so, you might remember your teacher standing at the overhead projector, using his/her wet erase marker to complete math problems that were photocopied onto a transparency sheet. Those transparency sheets are still available for sale, believe it or not. (I got mine here; no affiliation.) I just put my fabric in a copy machine, inserted a transparency sheet, and hit copy at 100%. Do make sure the scale of your copier is correct by lining up the transparency over the fabric after copying the first print.

Fabric and transparency side-by-side (Sorry - reflective surfaces are difficult to photograph)

Fabric and transparency side-by-side, but one is backward (also, reflective surfaces are difficult to photograph)

I photocopied onto paper before using the paper copies to make transparency sheets. I wanted to be sure I got all the important elements on a single sheet first. The paper copy made it easy to try multiple configurations and to test the repeat pattern before cutting into the transparency sheet. For this part, I skipped the seam allowance to see what the finished pieces would look like.  When you’re happy with the selection, you can use an acrylic template to cut around the transparency version, then double-stick tape the transparency to the acrylic. From there, just line it up over the fabric to make multiple, identical cuts. What could be easier?! (Reminder: Be sure to include the seam allowance here, even if you skipped it for the step above.)

East Dakota Quilter - Fussy Cutting w Photocopies

East Dakota Quilter - Fussy cutting w transparency sheets

Of course, this doesn’t work if you don’t have access to a copier, but if you do… BAM! You’re welcome. This method (photocopying fabric onto either paper or transparency) also makes it easy to see whether two images on the fabric are too close together to get separate cuts. (Be sure to include seam allowances.) Fussy Cutting Tips by East Dakota Quilter

You could also use washi tape on the bottom of an acrylic template to hide seam allowances and really see what portion of the fabric will show on the final piece. (You don’t need to see that the outer edges line up with the fabric because you can already see through the transparency!) My first passacaglia rosette was made before I thought of the photocopy/transparency method. I am confident my next few rosettes will be even better! I’ve already started on my second.

Check out my WIPs page for links to all my La Passacaglia posts.